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Special Teams Execution? I Am All For It

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Bulldog

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I hope you will forgive me for paraphrasing John McKay's infamous line in response to a question about the performance of his expansion Bucs on the football field.

In this case the argument is narrowed much further to one series of units on the field, the Redskins' special teams.

Outside of Brandon Banks the Redskins' special teams was an unmitigated disaster in 2010 and the performances seemed to DECLINE rather than improve as the season wore on.

Mike Shanahan talks about not needing a complete overhaul of the roster, and to an extent that might be true (given the positive read on some players' performances this year), but in the case of the special teams a complete overhaul is exactly what the doctored ordered.

I really can't remember a year where the special teams performed this poorly since I started watching the Redskins in the 1970's.

The Redskins' field goal kicker Graham Gano missed 11 shots and finished with the worst conversion rate in the NFC. He missed field goals that ended up being the decisive points in a number of games this season and outside of the 52 yarder he was asked to convert in OT against Houston, most were in the makeable range for a solid specialist in the league.

The punter, Hunter Smith, had one of the lowest net averages in the NFL at the time of his release after the Tampa game. His replacement Paulescu appears to be a gap filler at best.

Nick Sundberg the long snapper from the preseason till the final games of the regular season continued to have problems with inconsistency on his snaps from center on what with Ethan Albright had been all but automatic for the past 7 or 8 years. The Redskins released James Dearth who had 10 years experience as a long snapper in the NFL in the preseason to keep a 23 year old kid whose pitches you needed Johnny Bench behind the plate to corral at times. I am all in favor of a youth movement at most positions, but long snapper, kicker, quarterback.......these are positions where age and experience are often an asset.

Return and coverage teams?

Again, Banks had 2 or 3 returns for a TD called back in 2010, not to mention other returns that would have resulted in excellent field position. I can't ever remember seeing that many long gainers nullified by penalties. The excuse that younger guys are being integrated into the return and coverage units is BS as teams like Chicago had to do the same thing given injuries on the roster and it didn't stop Devin Hester from being able to take kicks to the house without the obligatory yellow hankies being thrown.

The lack of discipline and decent technique on kicks is a consequence of focus and training which leads back to Danny Smith. His job is to get these guys ready to play. And there were enough games (not a single game) where that preparation didn't translate to the field.

No, in any review of 2010 I think the clear answer is that a complete overhaul is indeed necessary heading into the offseason on special teams.

Given that the Redskins have a penchant for playing games that come down to less than 7 points, winning the field position battle and converting makeable kicks is critical.
 

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You're right Bulldog, and great post :cheers: We've been so pre-occupied shredding the defensive and offensive performance, we've kind of given a pass to special teams. I've said it for awhile, I love Danny Smith in terms of intensity and energy, but he's been a very overrated coach. As one of the few guys who has been able to keep his job with all the coaching turnover of the past 5 years, it's beginning to become hard to see where all the confidence in him comes from?

I also think Shanahan has been inconsistent in addressing the ST issues. He fired Smith after the botched TB extra point hold, but other repetitive and glaring miscues go unpunished. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a big fan of firing people for a highly visible mistake or two. I'm not sure it really accomplishes anything unless you have a viable alternative (and if you had a better alternative, why weren't they in there to begin with?).

I've gone on record saying that I think Shanahan and Allen should not make any coaching changes. Are you suggesting Danny Smith needs to go?
 

Bulldog

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Smith needs to go.

The same players were being called for the block in the back in consecutive games this season. That showed that either the special teams staff wasn't getting through to these guys and making them work hard enough or they were simply tuning the staff out, which leads you to the same place in terms of what needs to be done going forward.

Mike Sellers, Reed Doughty, Kevin Barnes, Perry Riley. These guys were all repeat offenders and while you had some young guys in there in the middle of the season what is the excuses for Sellers and Doughty, two veterans?
 

Elephant

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I am not saying you are wrong BT, but I also think it should be mentioned that Banks lost a step this season. I believe part of the regression down the stretch was because Banks could not hide the flaws from earlier in the season because he lost some quickness.

The punter situation? Ugh!~

The long snapper? Why on earth would you get rid of one of the best players at their position on the team?

As for Gano, I saw this kid when I was attending FSU. He is more than capable of being a good kicker in the NFL. Shanahan touched on it in his interview last night, it is mental. Can this kid overcome the mental? I certainly hope so because he has a lot of upside. I think the coaches will bring in at least one other kicker to compete, but I imagine Gano to be the kicker again next year.
 

China

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I'm ready to see Danny Smith go. Too many gaffes from his special teams units, and repeat mistakes as BT stated.

As for Gano, I wouldn't cut him outright, but I would make sure he has serious competition next year to make sure he earns his place back on the team if he can beat out the competition.

As Shanahan said, it appears to be a mental thing with him. Someone needs to get his head straight, and apparently Danny Smith has been unable to do it.
 

Bulldog

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I don't care what Gano did in college.

The last guy we had in here that came with a kicking pedigree, Durant Brooks, winner of the Ray Guy award as the top college punter, was ATROCIOUS.

And after some other tryouts around the NFL, what is he doing now? :)

Gano has the same problem that Buehler does in Dallas, he's a great practice kicker and can wow you with his leg, but in the pressure of kicking on Monday Night or in a tight game that means something, you can't count on him to convert the MAKEABLE kicks.

Those under 40 kicks, unless there is adverse weather or a really bad snap, need to be converted 90% of the time.

That's what guys like Vinatieri or Matt Stover did over the years to help get their teams in the playoffs.

That's what we still need to find here.
 

Elephant

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I don't care what Gano did in college.

The last guy we had in here that came with a kicking pedigree, Durant Brooks, winner of the Ray Guy award as the top college punter, was ATROCIOUS.

And after some other tryouts around the NFL, what is he doing now? :)

Gano has the same problem that Buehler does in Dallas, he's a great practice kicker and can wow you with his leg, but in the pressure of kicking on Monday Night or in a tight game that means something, you can't count on him to convert the MAKEABLE kicks.

Those under 40 kicks, unless there is adverse weather or a really bad snap, need to be converted 90% of the time.

That's what guys like Vinatieri or Matt Stover did over the years to help get their teams in the playoffs.

That's what we still need to find here.
You won't get an argument from me that he should make those kicks and perhaps be cut. I am just suggesting, sometimes you have to stick it out a little longer with a younger kicker to give them time to develop when they do have so much potential.

I know the Akers comparison is not completely parallel, but I would hate to see such potential go to another team without giving him the chance knowing first hand what he can do. If you recall, Gano made a few clutch kicks as well. It seems the biggest blunders were in the rain.

I know this kid can be good. Will he? I don't know. Oh and the Vinatieri argument goes about as far as comparing Rex Grossman to Tom Brady. Of course we would be better with a kicker of that calibre, but there is only one of them in the world.
 

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The thing the Redskins will have to decide on Gano is whether the missed kicks this year represent his future, or whether it was an aberration that won't be repeated. The easy thing to do is cut him - and they might. Chip Lohmiller had a couple of seasons making only 57% of all of is kicks = awful. If he'd had one of those years his first two seasons, he likely would never have become the ultra solid kicker he was for the Redskins for 7 seasons.

It's possible Gano just can't handle the pressure. If thats the case we need to move on. But I can also see a case being made, if we believe in his physical talents, that this was essentially his rookie year and that the coaches believe they can help him work through his nerves, mechanics, or whatever else is causing him to not be the kicker they need.

I'll defer to the coaches who know Gano best on that. They must really like something about the kid. Poor Hunter Smith got cut for far less severe transgressions than the ones Gano has committed this season.
 

China

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But I can also see a case being made, if we believe in his physical talents, that this was essentially his rookie year and that the coaches believe they can help him work through his nerves, mechanics, or whatever else is causing him to not be the kicker they need.

I'll defer to the coaches who know Gano best on that. They must really like something about the kid. Poor Hunter Smith got cut for far less severe transgressions than the ones Gano has committed this season.
Danny Smith presumably knows Gano best. But the consensus here is Danny should be gone. Do we then bring in a coach who has no history with Gano who may summarily cut him as a result, or does Shanahan tell a new ST coach to evaluate him in competition first?

I'm with El in that I'd hate to see Gano summarily cut by a new coach only to resurface elsewhere as a pro-bowler a la Akers.
 

riggins44

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LOL...thought you were setting up a firing squad for Gano.

Our kicking situation needs a lot of attention. How long has it been since we have had stability at punter and place kicker?
 

servumtuum

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to me its obvious that Banks loves the outside when running back and any time he can get there he is almost guaranteed to break it for a nice one. it seems like we should set up our returns for that more since he likes to run to the sides.
Mike, I think other teams have picked up on this as well. I've noticed a tendency to either kick it away from him or to have their coverage run slightly toward the outside as soon as he starts heading there. I also noticed a slight drop in his speed that I'm wondering might be a lingering effect from his surgery.
 

Rymanofthenorth

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new st coach would not be a bad thing I think smith has been overrated and our sts need significant imporvement. dont cut Gano but bring in someone to compete, and for the love of god bring back the red snapper, as someone else said snapper is a position that doesnt require youth in any way.
 

Goaldeje

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Sorry BT. If you believe what Shanny says, Smith stays:

redskinsblog Redskins Matt Terl
Shanahan says he intends to keep his coaching staff intact. "I'm gonna keep everybody."
via twitter
 

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Mike, I think other teams have picked up on this as well. I've noticed a tendency to either kick it away from him or to have their coverage run slightly toward the outside as soon as he starts heading there. I also noticed a slight drop in his speed that I'm wondering might be a lingering effect from his surgery.
I think the sideline routes are a conscious decision by the coaching staff. The guy weighs 149 lbs. I have the feeling the coaches are a lot more comfortable with him along the sideline where he can step out and avoid the big hits. I've also noticed he tends to step out before he absolutely has to. Normally, I'd criticize that. But in Banks case, his survival may depend on that strategy.
 

Goaldeje

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Just heard Danny Smith turned down a contract from the Donkeys to come back and coach here. Shanny said he will retain entire coaching staff.
Posted via BGO Mobile Device
 

Lanky Livingston

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I blame Danny Smith for much of our struggles this year. Special teams cost us at least two games (Detroit and Minnesota) b/c of return TDs called back, and countless games because of Gano's struggles. I'm not sure how Danny Smith still has a job.
 

Sarge

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Just heard Danny Smith turned down a contract from the Donkeys to come back and coach here. Shanny said he will retain entire coaching staff.
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I was hoping he'd it the road. Of course, it doesn't seem to matter who's the ST coach is, we've had a long line of suckage from that position
 

Bulldog

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The Redskins' personnel on special teams has left something to be desired. Part of that is on Vinny and now Shanahan for going with guys like Sundberg, Gano as well as Josh Bidwell who was injured all of 2009 with the Buccaneers.

Smith, though, is expected to contribute from my understanding of how Shanahan utilizes the staff in personnel and I can't believe Smith decided he was comfortable going with Sundberg as the long snapper given his inconsistent performances in the camp and the preseason.

And no competition was brought in for Gano.

Didn't Shanahan stress that he wanted to see competition across the roster? :)
 

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